PACQUIAO VS. BRADLEY
I respect Tim Bradley but I feel as if I’ve already seen Manny Pacquiao fight him. Remember Pac vs. Agapito Sanchez? Shorter fighter pressures with his head, opponent gets cut to pieces, fight ends in a technical draw. I hope I’m wrong, but I won’t pay to find out. Your thoughts on that comparison? – Joe Anderson
It’s good comparison, and (as I’ve stated before) I think headbutts can be a factor in this potential matchup (and not one that favors the Filipino superhero).
Like the late Sanchez, Bradley is a crafty but aggressive boxer who possesses good footwork, considerable physical strength, a herky jerky style, and tends to come in with his head. However, it must be noted that the strikingly raw version of Pacquiao that fought (and struggled with) the cagey Dominican back in November of 2001 no longer exists.
That was only the PacMan’s second fight under Freddie Roach, and apart from being years away from grasping the veteran trainer’s teachings, the impetuous young southpaw over did it in drying out to make the junior featherweight limit. (The fight was a 122-pound title unification bout. Pac held the IBF strap; Sanchez held the WBO belt.) Pacquiao, who was only sipping down one bowl of soup a day the week leading into the HBO-televised bout, weighed in at 120½ pounds (as Sanchez did).
However, I believe Pacquiao probably could have comfortably fought at junior lightweight if he was eating three meals a day, as Floyd Mayweather, who defended his WBC 130-pound title against Jesus Chavez in the main event of that Top Rank-promoted card in San Francisco, was.
I covered that fight for MaxBoxing.com, which was less than a year old at the time. It was one of the few road trips I made with my wife (and no, Steve Kim did not tag along for that ride to the Bay Area, which was one of the most fun and memorable assignments of my career).
Four things immediately come to mind when I think of that card:
1) I picked Sanchez to beat Pacquiao.
2) The few Filipino media and VIPs who sat in or around press row were not impressed with their countryman. Some predicted that Pacquiao would quit soon after one of Sanchez’s trademark headbutts cut his face. Whenever he banged his gloves together (either in frustration or just a show of machismo), one old guy would sigh “So dramatic; that’s so Filipino.”
3) After the fight, Larry Merchant was so pissed off about Sanchez’s dirty tactics that he yelled at the fighter and his cornermen as they left the ring. “You’ll never fight on HBO again!” Merchant barked. To which veteran cutman Tony Rivera, who was with Sanchez, shot back: “F__k you! We’ll fight on Showtime!”
4) When my wife spotted then-HBO commentator George Foreman stumbling around the ringside seats during the undercard she called the former heavyweight champ over and asked him what happened to his leg; “30 years of boxing,” he replied.
WARD > PACQUIAO & MAYWEATHER
I emailed you a few times but I was sending it to you @ your yahoo account so hopefully this one finds you. I’m a lifelong fan of boxing and a fan of yours. I don’t always agree with you but I respect your opinion. I was livid when I thought Pac vs Cotto 2 was taking place. No need for that fight. I know that the so called big fight isn’t happening on May 5th and at this point I don’t care if it ever happens. There are too many other good fights out there that I don’t have to pay for.
I’ve been a Mayweather hater for a long time and will continue to be. He didn’t take the toughest fights when he had the opportunity. This fight should’ve taken place 2 years ago and we all know this. Pac should fight Tim Bradley or Lamont Peterson, a younger fighter who will actually fight back. Margarito and Mosley were pathetic fights and were BS for the fans. The last fight with Marquez looked like the first two fights and I thought that Pac won the fight although it could’ve been a draw.
I just don’t want to talk about that fight anymore. Myself and my boxing friends don’t even talk about it anymore. Also can you explain to me how Andre Ward isn’t the top pound for pound boxer in the sport? The last two years he’s fought more often and better competition. He just won a tournament where he beat the two fighters that were favored to win along with three others that were ranked in the top 10. He barely lost a round in the tournament. The other 3 guys haven’t fought the best in their division and Mayweather has only fought once a year. Ward hasn’t ducked anyone and should be ranked #1!
I’m looking forward to the fights coming up. I’m from Philly (just moved to the West Coast in September, Bay Area) but I’m ready to see B-Hop retire! I don’t think that he can beat Chad Dawson & he has NOTHING left to prove. I never wish for him to lose but almost wish that Chad sends him into retirement. When is the best time to write an email to be featured in the mailbag? Look forward to hearing back from you and now that I’m in California I can meet you in person. Have a great day! – Austin
Thanks for the kind words, Austin. Look for me at the next big fight you attend in Southern California (or up north — with all the world-class fighters emerging from the Bay Area and Northern Cali it’s only a matter of time before there’s a major fight card in your neck of the woods).
Saturday nights and Sunday mornings/afternoons are the best times to email me for the Monday mailbag. Anytime on Wednesday or Thursday is a good time to email me for the Friday edition of the column.
The fact that you and others don’t believe Hopkins can beat Dawson is all the motivation the old man needs to get back into the ring (well, that and another seven-figure payday).
Andre Ward’s time will come, but he hasn’t proven himself to be the No. 1 boxer on the planet yet. Winning the Super Six tournament earned Ward a top-5 ranking on most P4P lists as well as the right to call himself THE super middleweight “champion.” However, one-sided victories over Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Sakio Bika and Carl Froch do not make one “the man” in a pound-for-pound sense. To do that, one must beat fellow-elite fighters, and either beat the top fighters in other weight classes or completely conquer his own division.
Ward hasn’t done that – yet. He still has to beat Lucian Bute in order to claim that he “cleaned out” the 168-pound division, and he’s yet to beat a top dog at middleweight or light heavyweight. If we’re lucky, he’ll get the opportunity to do so this year and next.
I agree with most (if not all) of your Pacquiao/Mayweather sentiment. There’s no need for me to go into detail. Thanks again for being persistent with your emails.
WILL THERE EVER BE ANOTHER G.O.A.T.?
But take a young talented fighter, what is required of them to get the perennial recognition? Is it even possible unless the overall standard of boxing (and therefore opposition) improves? We’re probably talking going undefeated, or at least avenging any losses, because gone are the days when fighters fought with the regularity of Sugar Ray Robinson or Henry Armstrong. There again, Ray Leonard didn’t fight forty times yet he still makes most top ten lists, but he was lucky to have fought in the same era as many of the all time greats (and beat them). Do they need to scale the weight classes even more impressively than Pacquiao? What do you think? – Liam, Ireland
I don’t think weight hopping is the answer to your very good question. Your statement that professional boxers will never again fight with the regularity of Robinson or Armstrong (or Willie Pep, Archie Moore or any of the icons of the 1930s,’40s and ’50s) is absolutely right. Those men are atop boxing’s version of Mount Olympus.
However, you are also right that Leonard is held in the same high regard as those old-time boxing deities despite having only fought 40 pro bouts. Yes, Leonard won major titles in five weight classes, but he forged his legend in one division – welterweight – and later secured his legacy with one fight at middleweight (the split decision over Marvelous Marvin Hagler).
He did this by facing other accomplished ultra-talented fighters who were forging legends of their own. (Was it “luck” that he emerged during a time when the welterweight division was at its deepest? Yeah, but it was his unbridled desire to be great that made sure he got in the ring with some of those monsters at the ring times.)
Leonard took on Wilfred Benitez when the Puerto Rican star was in his prime and unbeaten in 39 pro bouts. He split fights with great Roberto Duran (71-1/72-1 at the time) when the Panamanian was at the peak of his legend and physical/technical prowess. He fought Thomas Hearns when “the Hitman,” who was 32-0 with 30 knockouts at the time, legitimately challenged his status as the best welterweight and the No. 1 fighter, pound for pound, in the game.
The argument for Leonard’s greatness is helped by the fact that he went 3-1 against this dynamic trio in the span of 22 months, and it is furthered by the fact that Benitez, Duran and Hearns continued to build their own legends after losing to the 1976 Olympic gold medalist.
Can Mayweather or Pacquiao get atop Mt. Olympus with Leonard and the Golden Age gang? Yes, especially if they fight each other this year. But it will take more than the super-duper-awesome-mega fight to happen for either star to prove his greatness to me.
Pacquiao would have to KO Bradley (which isn’t inconceivable), beat Mayweather without controversy and then earn a decisive victory over his arch rival JM Marquez (provided the Mexican master can win his next couple of bouts, especially the proposed showdown with Lamont Peterson).
Mayweather can get in with a controversy-free stoppage of either Miguel Cotto or Saul Alvarez (at 154 pounds), a decisive victory over Pacquiao, and a win over Sergio Martinez (preferably at 154 or 160 pounds, not the 150-pound catchweight).
And these three fights need to take place by the end of 2013.
Other active fighters have the opportunity to secure all-time great status, in my opinion.
Bernard Hopkins, who I already consider “great,” can do it by decisively beating Chad Dawson and then taking out another young standout, such as Lucian Bute (at 168 or 175 pounds) or the winner of the –Yoan Pablo Hernandez-Steve Cunnigham rematch.
(By the way, if you’re wondering why I would consider B-Hop to be “great” over the more-talented likes of Mayweather and Pacquiao, it’s real simple: He’s done things others haven’t, such as completely unify a particular weight class by winning the IBF, WBC, WBA and WBO middleweight belts; breaking the division record for title defenses; traveling to other countries to challenge for world titles; and breaking the record of the oldest boxer to win a major title.)
Marquez is close to B-Hop’s status and can earn his way to Mt. Olympus by winning a major title at 140 pounds (preferably against Peterson) and then by decisively beating his Filipino arch rival. A victory over countryman Erik Morales wouldn’t hurt.
I believe there are a few young guns with the requisite ability, present accomplishments and the potential dance partners to perhaps one day earn the elusive tag of “greatness,” and Nonito Donaire and Andre Ward are the boxers that immediately come to mind.
Ward needs to defeat Bute, best middleweight Sergio Martinez at 168 pounds or a reasonable catchweight, and then beat a few young light heavyweight beltholders, such as Tavoris Cloud, Nathan Cleverly and Beibut Shumenov (or whoever happens to be holding those belts at the time), in order to make an argument.
Donaire has to take care of business against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. this Saturday and do so in impressive fashion, and then he must beat the best of the 122-pound division – mainly Toshiaki Nishioka and Guillermo Rigondeaux – before beating whoever is atop the featherweight or 130-pound divisions, which should be Chris John, the winner of the Salido-Lopez rematch, and hopefully Yuriorkis Gamboa (unless the Cuban makes good on his intention to challenge and beat lightweight badass Brandon Rios and decides to stay at 135 pounds).
The scenarios I’ve given you could happen. You could witness three or four fighters secure unquestionable “greatness” over the next two or three years.
However, I don’t believe we will see anyone grab the title of G.O.A.T.
Email Doug Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer